A British trial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine involving children has been paused over fears of a possible link to blood clots.
Oxford University, who helped develop the vaccine, said in a statement: “Whilst there are no safety concerns in the paediatric clinical trial, we await additional information from the MHRA (UK regulator) on its review of rare cases of thrombosis/thrombocytopaenia that have been reported in adults, before giving any further vaccinations in the trial.”
Over the weekend, it was reported that the MHRA found 30 cases of rare blood clots in people who have had the jab, out of more than 18 million doses given as of March 24. They insist that the risk of having this clot is “very small”.
Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies adviser Professor Calum Semple told Channel 4 news that people should still accept Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs will the regulators investigate.
“This has been done out of exceptional caution and the big story still is that for a middle-aged, slightly overweight man, such as myself, my risk of death is one in 13,000 – the risk of this rare clot, which might not even be associated with the vaccine, is probably one in a million.
“So I’m still going to say it’s better to get the vaccine than not get the vaccine and we can pause and take time to carefully consider the value for children because they’re not at risk of death from Covid.”
“If you’ve been called for the vaccine then you’re in an age group that is very likely to benefit from the vaccine. So the bottom line is if you’ve been called for the vaccine I would urge you to take the vaccine,” he added.
The news comes as the EU regulator said it has not yet reached a conclusion on the jab.
The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee has been reviewing the cases of rare blood clots in people vaccinated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, but has “not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing”.
The committee is expected to announce findings in a press briefing on Wednesday April 7 or Thursday April 8.
It comes after EMA’s head of vaccine strategy Marco Cavaleri told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero that there was a clear link between the jab and blood clots.
“In my opinion, we can say it now, it is clear there is a link with the vaccine. But we still do not know what causes this reaction,” he said. “Among the vaccinated, there are more cases of cerebral thrombosis among young people than we would expect.”
The EMA has previously stated that there was “no evidence” to support restricting the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in any population.